on June 18, 2014
This is the Hammer version of SHE from 1965, not to be confused with the RKO version of 1935. Neither version is entirely faithful to the Rider Haggard story.
This Hammer version is handsomely done, in beautiful color. The DVD presentation is widescreen. The length is 105 minutes.
This is a Warner Archives DVD-R. It has no special features and not even a scene menu.
The image is occasionally flawed by tiny imperfections on the right side of the screen, little amoeba-like blobs which pop up for a second and then vanish. This happens only about half a dozen times.
The biggest problem is that this is a DVD-R, and even though it is from Warner, whose regular DVDs are always good, it has all the flaws of DVD-Rs. That is, you can't be sure it will play reliably on your machine until you buy it and play it.
The first one I ordered played perfectly for 92 minutes, then started skipping wildly for 2 minutes, during a crucial scene. After that, it settled down, but then skipped some more later. So the climax of the film was ruined. The Amazon merchant I ordered the DVD-R from sent me a replacement without making any difficulty. The replacement played fine for 80 minutes, then skipped about 2 seconds, then was fine for a bit, then skipped 10 seconds, then 20, etc. -- about five or six skips in all, slicing out 2 or 3 minutes of the film during the climactic ending section. However, when I put the DVD in for a second playing, starting it at about 80 minutes, it played fine until the end. Will it play correctly the next time I watch the film, say, 6 months from now? Who knows? DVD-R is a crappy technology. When will these manufacturers learn that customers will GLADLY pay more for a PERMANENT DVD that they can play over and over again, year after year, confident that it will perform? I'd rather pay $25 for a real Warner DVD than $17 for a DVD-R any day.
Unfortunately, it seems that the only true DVDs available for this film are from Britain, and are Region 2, which doesn't do us any good on this continent.
Back to the movie itself: the story is handsomely filmed, with a simple but mostly effective score, except for the overuse of the bouncy "journey through the desert" motif. The acting is good, with Peter Cushing turning in his usual polished performance and the other players, including Christopher Lee, Rosenda Monteros, John Richardson and Bernard Cribbins all being adequate or better than adequate. Ursula Andress is not only perfect in beauty for the role, but acts the role convincingly. One can believe she is an immortal woman and a powerful and ruthless queen. I say this because she is usually knocked for being just a beauty with no acting talent. Well, she may not be a great actress, but she was perfect in this, given the atmosphere of the film. I am told that her dialogue was dubbed by another actress, but one would not know that from looking at the film in a casual way, since the sound is almost perfectly well synchronized with her lips. Whoever the actress was who did the voice, she was perfect: her beautiful and dignified voice matched Andress's looks and acting.
The sets, special effects, etc. are all very good; the film is a feast for the eyes. I would love to see it on the big screen.
Is it better than the 1935 version? Hard to say. The 1935 actress did a good job, but is outmatched in looks by Andress. The 1935 version also departs from the African setting and from other details of the novel's plot. Also, the 1935 original was only in black and white, whereas this movie screams out for color. Fortunately there is a good colorized version of the 1935 available now, in a 2-DVD set which I recommend. So now one can watch both versions with the "color advantage" of the Hammer film removed, and compare them for other things -- script, acting, sets, plot, music, etc. But this Hammer version is very good in its own right, and I recommend both.
If you get a DVD-R that works, you should enjoy this movie, if you like adventure, fantasy, etc. The film is worth 4/5. The DVD-R gets 1/5, for good image and sound but otherwise the usual DVD-R cruddiness.